ABC supports stubbing out smoking

smokefreeplayThe Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) is calling for voluntary ‘no smoking zones’ to be implemented across the UK wherever children play or learn.

In a bid to help protect children’s health and reduce the perception among young people that smoking is normal behaviour, the CIEH launched a campaign on World Environmental Health Day (26th September 2016) to extend non-smoking areas around places such as schools and play parks, or locations where young people learn or play.  www.cieh.org/world-environmental-health-day.html

To support their cause the CIEH produced a selection of case studies demonstrating the benefits of introducing smoke free environments; Ashford’s smoke free play areas initiative is among those highlighted along with other local authorities including Nottingham City Council and Coventry City Council.

In April 2015 Ashford Borough Council (ABC) was invited by Kent County Council (KCC) Public Health to pilot a smoke free play area project in a bid to provide a non-smoking environment for children and their families to enjoy, help protect children from the effects of second hand smoke, and reduce the number of children who start smoking after being influenced by those who do.

ABC rolled out smoke free pilots in a number of play areas across the borough including The Stour Centre, Kilndown, Bullied Place and Newtown Green. They created fun pavement games, which are a fantastic way to keep children active, as well as engaging signage which encourages a smoke free area and gently reminds people not to light up.

Canterbury City Council were inspired by our project and in May 2016 introduced a similar scheme in St Stephens Park, with another four parks to also implement the scheme in the Barton, St Stephens and Northgate area of Canterbury.

ABC’s smoke free play area initiative not only continues to be a success, but strives to reduce the amount of cigarette litter in play areas too, making them a cleaner environment for the community. In conjunction with the council’s new litter enforcement pilot, a £75 fine will be issued to those who deliberately drop cigarettes.

KCC Director of Public Health, Andrew Scott-Clark said: “We are pleased that the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health has recognised our smoke free parks projects and we would encourage other district councils, across Kent and nationally, to follow Ashford’s lead and set up voluntary no smoking zones.

“The aim is to provide a smoke free environment for children and their families to enjoy, help protect children from the effects of second hand smoke, and reduce the number of children who start smoking after being influenced by those who do. In the process it also reduces the amount of cigarette litter in play areas, making them a cleaner environment for the whole community.”

Ashford Borough Council 12 October 2016

October is International Walk to School Month

iwsmThousands of children across the world will be celebrating walking to school.

Why the walk to school matters

Happier children

It’s been proven that children who do some form of exercise, especially a walk before school, do better in class because they arrive refreshed, fit and ready to learn.

Less congestion

During morning peak traffic times, one in five cars on the road are taking children school, contributing to congestion, air pollution and carbon emissions.

Cleaner air

The school run alone is responsible for generating two million tonnes of CO2 per year. Imagine what we could achieve if we began converting some of these rides to strides?


Aspire Landscape Management

aspireIntroducing Aspire Landscape Management

From October, Ashford Borough Council (ABC) will be bringing the responsibility for grounds maintenance across the borough back in-house.

The new service, called Aspire Landscape Management, will cover the day-to-day work of mowing, pruning, planting, clearing and litter picking on various spaces owned by the council including open green space, parks, floral beds, cemeteries, areas around housing sites, hedges, sports pitches and associated footpaths.

The service is also working with Kent County Council (KCC) Highway Services on areas of work that we can perform in order to maintain quality standards. Until now, this work was undertaken by Landscape Services, but from this autumn it will come under the responsibility of ABC. (more…)

Responsible dog ownership

dogPet owners encouraged to take the lead on responsible dog ownership

A dog may be man’s best friend, but they do have a tendency to get lost or roam away from their owners. Fortunately, lost or stray dogs can be reunited with their family much more quickly and easily if they have been microchipped.

To help reunite owners with lost or stolen pets, relieve stress on animal charities and local authorities and encourage responsible dog ownership, a new government law on compulsory microchipping dogs came into force on April 6th 2016.

Dog owners are being reminded to have their pets microchipped and to keep their details up to date. Owners of dogs found without a chip will have 21 days to have the procedure carried out. Those who refuse to microchip their dogs could face a fine of up to £500.

Ashford Borough Council employs a dedicated Dog Warden who is fully equipped with the training and experience to microchip dogs. The warden will offer a free microchipping service where required; this includes if a dog comes into their possession as lost or a stray, or if they receive repeat complaints of a dog straying.

The microchips are available to the council at no cost from the Dogs Trust, enabling Ashford dog owners to use this service for free. Alternatively, owners can take their dog to their local vet to receive a microchip. (more…)

SACF September 2016 Meeting

South Ashfprd Community ForumA reminder that the next meeting of South Ashford Community Forum will take place
at 7:00 pm
on 21st September 2016
at South Ashford Baptist Church
Brookfield Road, TN23 4EY

The Agenda and the minutes of the meeting of 13th July are available from the Minutes and Agendas page on the South Ashford website.

You will see that two of the agenda items relate to parks and open spaces:

  • Chris Dixon is returning to give an update on the Victoria Park and Watercress Fields Masterplan.
  • We will be discussing our submission to the Common Select Committee for Communities and Local Government (CLGC) Inquiry into the Future of Public Parks (please refer to the note below).

Please do encourage your friends, colleagues and acquaintances, that live or work in South Ashford to come to this meeting.

CLGC Inquiry into the Future of Public Parks

We are currently preparing a draft submission to the CLGC Inquiry into the Future of Public Parks. We will discuss this briefly at the meeting and have posted the draft on the South Ashford website. Please feel free to comment on the draft: https://southashford.org.uk/index.php/category/parks/.

For more information on the Inquiry follow these links:

If you would like to submit evidence directly to the Committee:


Our Parks Matter video

Action is needed to avert a crisis that will undermine more than two decades of investment in the UK’s public parks, according to a new Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) report. www.hlf.org.uk/state-uk-public-parks-2016

Thanks to National Lottery players, our parks are in great shape. With the Big Lottery Fund, HLF have invested over £ 850 million in more than 800 of the UK’s public parks, improving facilities, renovating historic features and making them more popular than ever.

But according to our new State of UK Public Parks 2016 report, there is a growing deficit between the rising use of parks and the declining resources available to manage them.

Two years on from the first report into the state of UK parks, the downward trend in condition and maintenance we predicted in 2014 looks set to continue and many of our precious parks and green spaces face an uncertain future. (more…)